Parks start brumby trapping as Snowy plan sits on table

The Gooandra Trail and the state's wild horse management plan is in the spotlight.
The Gooandra Trail and the state's wild horse management plan is in the spotlight.

It used to be a quiet walking track leading to the Gooandra homestead, known as the Gooandra Trail.

Now it’s a rocky road. Brumby heritage groups say it has been improved so as to get brumbies out of the park with trucks.

While the wild horse management plan sits in the doldrums within the NSW Government, as the Nationals and Liberals negotiate a compromise solution on brumby culling, the National Parks and Wildlife Service is going about its annual winter cull of brumbies in the northern  part of the park.

It’s not known how many brumbies will be taken out, it could be in the hundreds, depending on how many horses are trapped.

Several trap sites have been set up near Long Plain, near the famous Yarrangobilly Caves on the Snowy Mountains Highway. A couple are at Long Plain where it is common to see brumby mobs grazing.

A 4km gravel hard rock road has been constructed though the national park that leads to this area, believed to be a brumby trap site, in the northern part of Kosciuszko National Park.

A 4km gravel hard rock road has been constructed though the national park that leads to this area, believed to be a brumby trap site, in the northern part of Kosciuszko National Park.

Early today, NSW National Parks confirmed these facts to The Land :

  • Trapping in northern Kosciuszko National Park began this week.
  • 40 horses have been recovered so far.
  • NPWS is working with interested groups to find homes for the horses.
  • Improvement works were undertaken on Gooandra Trail earlier this year to repair damage and improve access for management activities including fire management, horse management, integrated pest management and management of the historic Gooandra Homestead.

The wild horses will end up at a re-homing sanctuary not far away near Talbingo. The horses will be matched up with prospective owners at no cost.

Brumby groups work closely with National Parks to make sure many brumbies are re-homed properly. Some go to a property the Wollemi Brumby Haven near the Hawkesbury River that helps foster children to re-connect with their lives through horse husbandry.

The program is having great success helping foster children. There is also a place that takes brumbies to help autistic children.

Bliss .. how the walking track on Long Plain used to look before it was made into a hard rock road.

Bliss .. how the walking track on Long Plain used to look before it was made into a hard rock road.

Although most of the brumby customers are trustworthy, it is believed not all are honest about their intentions with the horses.

A large number of brumbies, well over 50 per cent end up at abattoirs in South Australia and Queensland.

The numbers of brumbies in the park has been hotly contested. National Parks says there is between 2700 and 6000 wild horses in the northern part of the park.

Heritage groups seeking the heritage listing of brumbies says those numbers are wildly exaggerated. A recent aerial survey claimed there were not much more than 700 brumbies.

National Parks says it wants to have just 600 brumbies in the park. Parks staff put  molasses blocks down to attract brumbies to the trap sites over a long period.

Michelle Brown from Snowy Brumby Heritage Group says the horses become addicted to the blocks, as in a trance, and stay close to the trap sites.

Ms Brown insists the brumbies are an important part of our heritage and should be protected. Her partner recently walked a 30km trail on Long Plain and only saw one brumby.

John Perry wrote on Facebook to The Land story questioning why traps are put near the sensitive areas that  National Parks are trying to protect.

He wrote: “National Parks and Wildlife trap and remove brumbies from Kosciuszko every winter. Do environmental scientists study the area prior to it becoming a trapsite and more or less give NPWS the all clear? If so,why is the trapsite down the trail opposite to the Yarrangobilly exit situated on the edge of a running creek? Mobs of horses are lured to this area by the baits put there by National Parks and Wildlife ,therefore having to cross the creek ,walk all over the area and stay in the area doing so for the whole of the winter trapping season. Creek beds,creek erosion,hard hoofed animals destroying river /creek banks etc. National Parks and Wildlife have lured these horses to this sensitive area!!!’’

NSW Environment Minster Gabrielle Upton said the State Government was finalising its wild horse management plan.

“Brumbies will always be part of the Kosciusko National Park,” Mrs Upton said.

“At the same time we need to protect the most environmentally sensitive parts of the park. I am sure we can get the balance right and the new plan will also have wide community support.”

The Land has asked for a response from National Parks.